Tripoli under siege: Libyan militias battle for control

Violence erupted all over the Libyan capital city of Tripoli last night, as what started off as a siege by an armed group from Misrata quickly spread across the city, with fighting continuing into the early hours of Saturday morning.

Tripoli under siege: Libyan militias battle for control

World Bulletin / News Desk

Libya’s capital city Tripoli has became the battlefield for a number of rival militia groups as the authorities struggle to regain control. On Friday night, an armed group from Misrata conducted a siege on rival groups in Tripoli, in revenge for their slain leader who was killed on Thursday.

Tripoli’s eastern district of Suq al-Juma was raided by the Misrata brigade, in an attack that targeted the Tripoli brigade, who they blame for the death of their leader Nuri Friwan. The clashes sparked panic among guests at the Mahari Radisson Blu Hotel, which was caught up in the crossfire. Guests were moved to the basement of the hotel as the building was hit a number of times in the fire fight. Two were reported to have been killed in the incident, which started at 9:45 pm, while 22 others were injured. However, it is not believed the hotel was specifically targeted. Fighting spread as Misratan militants already based in Tripoli also joined in.

The Libyan authorities called for calm this morning, while elders from Misrata entered negotiations with their counterparts from Tripoli to end the worst spat of violence seen in the city since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi. The family of Nuri Friwan also condemned the violence and distanced themselves from any responsibility.

Libya has also increased its military presence on the streets in a bid to quell the fighting. Roads leading to Tripoli from the western city Misrata have been blocked to prevent the flow of insurgents heading towards the city. Fighter jets also flew a number of times over the eastern city Benghazi in a show of military might. Meanwhile, army units were also deployed on the streets of the city, much to the pleasure of the people who have seen increasing incidents of violence over the past year.

The Libyan government is still trying to regain control over the militias that were formed during the overthrowing of Muammar Gaddafi by recruiting them into the nation’s official army. Currently there are a number of militant groups on a government pay-roll, employed to maintain security in the country. However, the absence of a strong authority since the downfall of Gaddafi has left the government unable to prevent outbreaks of violence between rival groups. The Libyan prime minister, Ali Zeidan, who himself was kidnapped and held hostage by a militant group for 24 hours last month, has like his two predecessors before him threatened to cut the pay-roll of militiamen who don’t join the army by the end of the year.

However, many militiamen are refusing to join the government’s forces until they are completely convinced that it will serve the purpose of the Libyan revolution. Frustration and impatience among Libyans in the oil-rich east of the country has led them to announce the formation of a regional government, independent of Tripoli. 

Güncelleme Tarihi: 09 Kasım 2013, 14:55